Thursday, 20 November 2014

The Immanent Trinity, the Economic Trinity, and Personal Integrity

I’m a critical person; or, putting it differently, I complain a lot. I’m far more gracious when writing (I hope), because the process of turning thoughts into script offers me time to convert a whinge into a point. And sometimes I find that all I have is a whinge better left unexpressed – in public, at least. Wisdom lies in discerning the difference between a genuine criticism and a childish reaction, and in what to do with both.

Psalm 62:3-4, which I read today, is quite blunt in its finger-pointing at me:

How long will all of you attack others;
   how long will you tear them down
as if they were leaning walls
   or broken-down fences?
The only desire of this people
   is to bring others down low;
   they delight in deception.
With their mouths they bless,
   but inside they are cursing.

The final sentence – ‘With their mouths they bless, but inside they are cursing’ – particularly made me reflect on how my outward expressions and inner feelings are seldom aligned; I lack integrity. And my lack of personal integrity led me (obviously, of course!) to think about the relation between the so-called immanent and economic Trinities, that because the immanent Trinity is the economic Trinity, there is a consistency in what we can know of God. The triune God who has acted, and continues to act, in Christ by the Holy Spirit in relation to the world (the economic Trinity) is the same triune God whose eternal persons are known as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (the immanent Trinity). I don’t wish to get into discussions of whether this makes creation necessary here; my point is simply that there is no God-behind-God, and that if God is revealed to be a loving God through the actions of the incarnate Son and the Spirit, then we can be sure that God is not some indifferent energy force or personified malevolence prior to or beyond God’s relations with the world. There is integrity between the immanent and economic Trinities, an integrity that the body of Christ, and the people incorporated into this body, should surely desire to emulate.

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